WASHINGTON, DC:  Representative Edward Markey (MA) and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (NY) today again called on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to tighten controls on nuclear materials that could be used to create a dirty bomb, especially in light of recent reports that Al Qaeda had published a “how-to-make-a-dirty-bomb-guide” online.  According to the March 2, 2006 edition of Global Issues Report, “the militant Islamic online forum, a site commonly used by Al-Qaida and Iraqi insurgents, recently circulated Arabic-language instructions on how to make a radium dirty bomb.” The article reportedly includes photos and detailed directions in order to “make the experiment easy and available for you, my brother the mujahid, as they say, in the kitchen.”


“The NRC is on another planet if it thinks the issue of tracking dirty-bomb material is a public health issue, not an issue of preventing a terrorist from deploying and detonating a weapon in the war on terror,” said Rep. Markey. “We wouldn’t ask each state to take primary responsibility for overseeing loose nuclear weapons, yet the NRC is proposing that much of the federal responsibility over loose nuclear material be imposed on state environmental and health inspectors.”

"It is outrageous that the NRC would abdicate its responsibility to track dirty bomb components that we know terrorists would like to get their hands on. The threat of a dirty bomb is a security risk. This is just one more example of failure to ensure our homeland security.  New York remains a top threat of terrorist attack and a dirty bomb attack would wreak economic havoc in addition to the risk to human life and health posed by the blast and radiation.  In the post-9/11 world, it is unacceptable that the NRC would abdicate its responsibility to track nuclear materials.  We need national tracking of nuclear materials that could be used to make a dirty bomb to make sure they don’t fall into the wrong hands,” said Senator Clinton.

Markey and Clinton secured passage of an amendment to the Energy Bill that required a cradle-to-grave, national tracking system for materials that could be used to make a dirty bomb in order to reduce the risk that terrorists could obtain these materials.  The legislation also required the NRC to regulate radium for the first time. However, the NRC has made the short-sighted and ill-considered decision that controlling these materials is not a security issue and should not be a federal responsibility.  Instead, they have deemed this a public health and safety issue and pushed responsibility for implementing the tracking system to the States, effectively eliminating the ability of the NRC to enforce compliance. 

In a letter to the Chairman of the NRC on June 22, 2006, Markey and Clinton called on the NRC to abide by the stricter standard set by the law and make controlling these nuclear materials the federal security priority this threat requires.  On August 1, 2006, the NRC sent its response, which indicated that:

·          States representing about 29% of all radioactive sources to be covered by the tracking system opposed (CA, FL, IL, MA, NY)and States representing about 17% of all radioactive sources to be covered by the tracking system were neutral about (AL, GA, LA, MS, NM, NC, RI, TN, UT, WI) the NRC’s move to shift responsibility for implementing and enforcing the tracking system requirements to the States. (The NRC will also implement the tracking system in an additional 16 States representing about 20% of all radioactive sources to be covered by the tracking system. These States do not have Agreements with the NRC that would enable them to implement the tracking system.)
·          The NRC confirmed that if the rule proceeds using the public health and safety basis, individual States would be expected to oversee and enforce their own implementation of the tracking system. It also confirmed that this would save the Commission money - while shifting these costs to the States.
·          Under the current proposal, if a radiation source is shipped from one State to another, the recipient State would not be notified that it now had an additional source to track.
·          10 States do not currently have 24/7 capability to access tracking source database information.

060302 GIR - Dirty Bomb info Posted to Hostile web Forum.pdf

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Septeber 1, 2006

CONTACT: Israel Klein